Luton, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via DAVID BARRETT & The Telegraph
A British four-year-old child was allegedly threatened with counter-terrorism measures after mispronouncing the word ‘cucumber‘ as ‘cooker bomb’ as a wave of hysteria permeates the U.K. in the light of ongoing terrorism threats, national newspaper The Telegraph yesterday.
The unidentified boy was at nursery when teachers overheard him say ‘cooker bomb’ instead of cucumber during play and workers at the nursery have said the child should be referred to a de-radicalisation and counter-terrorism project, despite the fact that many children of his age regularly mispronounce longer words.
The boy, said to be of ‘Asian‘ heritage, also allegedly drew a picture of a man chopping up a cucumber, technically a fruit, but used widely as a vegetable in both British and South Asian cooking, with a large knife, which triggered further concerns in the worried nursery workers.
Staff at the nursery in Luton, Bedfordshire, around 33.5 miles from central London, spoke with the boy’s mother and said he commented ‘cooker bomb’ when asked about the subject of his picture. They also expressed a wish to refer the incident to the ‘Prevent’ deradicalisation scheme, run by the Home Office government agency. Instead the case was referred to police and social services, who decided no further action would be taken, according to the BBC Asian Network.
The little boy’s mother, who was not named in the Telegraph report, told the newspaper “[The member of nursery staff] kept saying it was this one picture of the man cutting the cucumber, which she said to me is a ‘cooker bomb’.
“I was baffled. It was a horrible day.”
The mother also expressed fears that her child would be taken away from her into care once social services became involved. The case echoes that of a 10-year-old boy, also British Asian, who was visited by police at his home, after he wrote ‘terrorist house’ instead of ‘terraced house’ for a school assignment, triggering a radicalisation alert from his teacher.
Since July 2015, as part of the UK government’s strategy to combat extremism and radicalisation among young people and the voting in of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act, teachers have been required to report any incidents alluding to terrorism and violence amongst their pupils, but this has led to numerous mistakes, many almost farcical, as teachers complained that the reporting rules were not clear enough. Many teaching unions have said that the government measures have been poorly laid out to the educational community.
Alex Kenny from the National Union of Teachers said: “Teachers are scared of getting it wrong.
“They think Ofsted is going to criticise them if they haven’t reported these things, and you end up [with] the boy making the spelling mistake, or the boy saying something in Arabic – that then gets reported on.”
Figures published by the Telegraph state that just under 2,000 under-15s were referred to counter-terrorism and de-radicalisation initiatives such as Prevent in the period between January 2012 and December 2015.